Taxpayers paid millions to defend former HISD Trustee Larry Marshall

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ByTed Oberg via KTRK logo
Thursday, December 1, 2016
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HISD Trial Costs Millions

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- On the day of the verdict that declared former HISD Trustee Larry Marshall liable for a string of charges including bribery, conspiracy and racketeering in civil U.S. Federal Court, the Houston Independent School District proudly declared it was not liable for any of the millions in damages that Marshall and his co-defendants were saddled with.

And good thing, because jurors on Nov. 16 slapped Marshall and his conspirators with a hefty sum in the wake of their bribery claim: $5 million.

After the trial, HISD sent out a statement reading in part,"HISD taxpayers are not liable for an damages awarded...HISD remains committed to effective and transparent stewardship of taxpayer dollars."

See the full statement here.

What HISD brass didn't tell you -- the brass seeking to cut costs anywhere it can -- is that taxpayers already paid out millions of dollars in connection with this case.

A few minutes after Marshall was found liable for millions in damages, he emerged from the federal courthouse surrounded by his lawyers.

It's those lawyers you paid for.

Ted Oberg Investigates racked up the dollars.

These aren't just estimates -- they're from the legal bills ABC13 obtained from HISD.

Representing Marshall since 2010 has cost $3,064,934.

HISD insurance kicked in some, but taxpayers paid nearly $2.5 million.

And with Marshall considering an appeal, HISD -- and therefore you -- may not be finished paying.

Richard Morris represented Marshall at trial.

Ted Oberg Investigates asked: Why should taxpayers pay for Marshall's defense?

"Taxpayer pay often for the defenses of elected officials because they volunteer their service," Morris said.

Certainly the jury's verdict suggested they felt Marshall's service was anything but volunteer.

Experts say, though, that this sort of arrangement is the norm

"This is public money, this is not somebody's private bank account," said attorney Joel Androphy, who is an expert in white-collar crime. "This is the public's bank account."

Androphy says most public agencies agree to do this.

But this case is six years old.

And Marshall admitted to many of the damning facts under oath and on tape during his deposition more than 4 years ago.

HISD could have stopped the legal meter and your costs long ago.

They didn't -- and taxpayers kept paying.

"I think the big question is how did HISD let this happen without knowing about it," Androphy said.

Alongside Marshall, others, including HISD vendor David "Pete" Medford and consultant Joyce Moss Clay, were found liable for civil unlawful conspiracy and a slew of other charges.

Despite the guilty verdict and the ominous-sounding charges, Marshall, 82, is not facing a single day behind bars. That's because the bribery trial was a civil trial, rather than a criminal one.

Marshall and his attorney continue to deny any wrongdoing and Marshall and his fellow defendants are considering appeals.